Thieves have stolen the medical records of more than 15,000 patients from a GP surgery, a primary care trust has admitted.
A safe with computer back-up tapes inside containing the personal information of 15,396 people was taken during the burglary at St Paul's Surgery in Winchester, Hampshire.
Hampshire Primary Care Trust said it would be writing to patients to tell them of the theft last weekend but stressed it would be difficult for anyone to access the information.
"We would like to reassure patients registered at the surgery that the chances of anyone being able to do anything untoward with the tapes are very small indeed," it said.
"This is because specialised computer equipment is needed to run the tapes and the information on it is protected by a password. Anyone trying to read the information would also then need to have very advanced computer skills or access to a special computer program to make any sense of it.
"At this early stage of the investigation, Hampshire Constabulary is keeping an open mind regarding the motive of this crime.
"However, most incidents of this nature involving GP practices are people looking for controlled drugs, money or prescription pads. The safe at St Paul's Surgery didn't contain such items."